The Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation honored companies and individuals for outstanding preservation of Athens historical sites, including Athens native Linda Davis, at the 50th Annual Athens Preservation Awards on Monday night.
ACHF Executive Director Tommy Valentine also unveiled a new initiative, the 2019 Athens Places in Peril, which will “encourage and guide efforts to save endangered historic spaces in Athens.” The locations selected for the initiative were nominated by Athens citizens and approved by the ACHF board.
Among the most notable winning sites for restoration included Maepole, Russell Hall and the Chi Psi fraternity house on South Milledge Avenue.
Davis received the Phinizy Spalding Award for outstanding contributions to the field of historic preservation in the Athens community, most notably with her restoration of the Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery.
A 1969 graduate of Athens High School, Davis worked as a part-time operator for Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company until she relocated to New Jersey after being told it was “inappropriate to supervise white people in a town where she knew them.”
Upon returning to Athens in 2005 after living in New Jersey and various Georgia cities, Davis began working to restore the Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery, which was under threat to be turned into a park.
“Everything that had meaning to [me] was gone,” said Davis about being inspired to restore the historic landmark after living away from home for so long. “You start to see yourself kind of erased from history.”
Davis works with local middle schoolers as well as volunteers from the Sigma Nu fraternity to restore the cemetery. She uses the opportunity to connect with young black students in Athens with the goal of instilling hope in them for their futures.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the number of years Davis spent in New Jersey was incorrect. Additionally, the Andrew Jones House was listed as a restoration project instead of a family home. These have since then been corrected. The Red & Black regrets these errors.